Trusts will need ongoing support as they continue to care for people
23 June 2020
Responding to the Labour Party's calls for a plan to clear NHS backlog, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:
"We welcome the spotlight on the health service as it continues to grapple with a new normal.
"Despite going through the most challenging period of its history, the NHS has achieved an extraordinary amount over the last few weeks. Over 33,000 beds were freed up to increase capacity, many services became available online, mental health A&Es were set up for those in crisis, and planned care was diverted.
"Trust leaders have every reason to be proud of the significant transformation the NHS has gone through to help care for those seriously ill with COVID-19, whilst continuing to care for those with other urgent health needs, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of staff.
"However, now that the NHS has passed the first peak of the virus, it will need to strike the right balance between coping with routine demand and keeping sufficient space and staff on standby for any possible subsequent wave. Trusts are committed to providing care to as many people as they can, but this will be a complex and challenging task, which will require effective prioritisation.
"Whilst demand has lessened in the acute sector, capacity is hugely stretched in community and mental health services due to a significant increase in the number of people needing care. The NHS will need sufficient financial support to meet this demand, maintain capacity for a potential second wave, including potentially through the private sector, whilst grappling with typical winter pressures.
"We also still need to see a fit for purpose testing system to help guard against a potential second spike. Currently, challenges remain to ensure routine testing for all staff and patients as part of resuming planned care, and to create local surge capacity that can respond effectively to protect communities in the event of local outbreaks.
"Trust leaders need external testing support with clear timelines, clarity on when the turnaround for test results will routinely be 24 hours for staff, and clarification on whether testing capacity is being made available to support a range of services to recommence, or whether certain services are being given additional priority.
"We must be realistic about what can be achieved in the face of all these ongoing challenges, and trusts will need ongoing support as they continue to care for people."